Cantabrian tackles vaccine phobias with virtual reality

Source: 1News

A fear of needles, or trypanophobia, affects around one in 10 New Zealanders to varying degrees and right now it's stopping thousands from getting their Covid-19 jab.

It's inspired Adam Hutchinson to develop an app that's using virtual technology to help Kiwis overcome their phobia and encourage them to get vaccinated. 

The Christchurch innovator created the oVRcome app with the input of clinical psychologists, using smart phone and virtual reality to gradually expose its users to situations they'd usually avoid. 

Adam Hutchinson's oVRcome app uses virtual reality scenarios to help people tackle their phobias.

Joining the VR clinical trial has been a game change for Julie Raine, who leapt at the chance after hearing about a new treatment for trypanophobia. 

"Even if my doctor advised a blood test, I would walk out and never have it done," she said. 

Gradual exposure to her fear has worked wonders for Raine, helping her to get the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine already. 

Julie Raine has been using a VR app to help her tackle trypanophobia, a fear of needles.

"Obviously in the back of my mind I knew the Covid vaccine was something that I had to consider. I was thinking, how long do I have to leave it until I have my vaccination. 

"And then I just got this new confidence. When I started watching it, my brain could rationalise it."